ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — As construction along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge continues, lawmakers are now debating what to do about a third span of the bay bridge. The big question is: where to put it.

There are two bills up for discussion here in the Senate related to the bay bridge. The first asks for $5 million to conduct a study about the impact of a third bay bridge crossing. The second bill says that if a third crossing is built, there will be money allocated to maintain and improve existing infrastructure leading up to the bridge.

Maryland state senators are now asking the University of Maryland to conduct a two-and-a-half-year study of the traffic, health and environmental impacts linked to a third bay bridge crossing.

“Folks on both sides of the river are paying the price from all our neighbors in throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania and DC who come down route 50 often times create 5, 6, 8-mile backups,’ said Republican Senator Edward Reilly,

Governor Larry Hogan has proposed an additional span between Broadneck in Anne Arundel County and Kent Island in Queen Anne’s County.

But lawmakers like Reilly said that’s not necessarily the best place for it and he wants to explore the other 18 options identified by the Maryland Department of Transportation.

“We’re seeing this standstill in neighborhoods because people are trying to avoid 50 and so they’re literally going into neighborhoods that were not built to handle this traffic,” said Democratic Senator Sarah Elfroth, “and so we need to make sure route 50 and roads that lead to an from a third span can handle extra traffic.”

Elfroth from Annapolis said if a third crossing is installed, she also wants to be sure the surrounding areas specifically in Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties can handle the extra traffic.

“We’re seeing this standstill in neighborhoods because people are trying to avoid 50 and so they’re literally going into neighborhoods that were not built to handle this traffic,” she said.

In October of this year, Hogan said he put plans in place to shorten the duration of the ongoing rehab project in an effort to ease traffic woes for drivers.

“When they first started the construction, it became less of a summertime and more of an all year round Friday issue,” said motorist Jim Barcliff.

“There’s always accidents on the bridge and when that happens it just becomes a mess here in the Annapolis area,” said driver Laura Antonelli.

Both of these bills will be up for a vote in the next few weeks. If they pass, this finance committee, they’ll go over to the entire house and eventually the entire senate for a vote.

Rachel Menitoff

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